Janesville30.1°

Crowd at BTC celebrates life of great ‘daydreamer’ King

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
January 15, 2012
— Beloit minister and kindergarten teacher the Rev. Kenda Roman believes that great civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a daydreamer.

Roman said that she believes King was always dreaming, with his eyes cast wide open and into the future. Whether it was his fights against inequality and injustice to his “I Have a Dream Speech” delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Monument in Washington, D.C.,—a prayer of hope that one day, all people will be on fair and equal footing.


She asked a crowd Saturday at Blackhawk Technical College if they dream the same.


“Do we dream just for today, or will our dreams shape future generations for tomorrow?” Roman said. “Are we acting today so that someone else will live out our dream tomorrow? You may not get there with them, but please believe that if we act today, they will get there tomorrow.”


Roman was keynote speaker at the annual commemoration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville on Saturday. Martin Luther King Day, the federal holiday for the civil rights activist, is Monday.


Roman, who teaches at Gaston Elementary School and is a minister at New Covenant church in Beloit, was one of a number of adults and youths who participated in the event, which included speeches, music and food.


The event was an opportunity for speakers to offer words on the life and ongoing mission of King.


Some local groups were honored Saturday, including the Beloit African American Infant Mortality Coalition, which works to improve infant survival rates in the black community.


Carol Hendrix of Beloit directed a high school gospel choir that sang at the event. The volunteer group has met for two years, mostly after school at Beloit High School.


The choir sang selections Saturday meant to embody King’s dreams of equality and harmony. But the songs weren’t just a celebration of social unity—they also brought together Janesville and Beloit young people.


The group officially became the Beloit/Janesville Gospel Choir when a half-dozen Janesville high school students joined the choir earlier this week, Hendrix said.


The new members had just one rehearsal of four multi-part songs before Saturday’s program, but Hendrix said they sounded great.


“There’s always that Beloit-Janesville thing, the sports rivalry and competition, but I guess when you sing together, that goes away. Their spirit clicked right away—they just came with excitement. They made a joyful noise,” Hendrix said.


The group sang an original song Hendrix had penned, “The Promised Land”—a musical version of King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.


Beloit High School junior Jalen Riddle delivered a spoken section of the piece in a booming baritone.


Riddle, 18, who wants someday to coach basketball and baseball, sounded like a polished orator as he shouted King’s metaphorical words about being “on the mountain top.”


In an interview after the presentation, Riddle said he sees King as a symbol of a great goal: equality.


After the event, Roman said what she finds most powerful about King’s message is that it seems to cross all lines of color, race and age. She said that watching King’s “daydreams” find root in new generations of people is what amazes her most.


“When I see my kindergartners grow up, and they come back and I see the good change in them…I’m not going to cry…I see the change in their lives, and I’m a recipient of change, too. It’s full circle.”



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